Mother of man who died in Oakland pursuit believes he was beaten

Thursday, August 20, 2015

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The mother of a man who died last month when he apparently became caught between two East Oakland buildings while fleeing from a from a traffic stop said that she wants more information from police about the incident.

An official with the Alameda County coroner's bureau said that a preliminary investigation indicates Oakland police didn't use any force in

the July 19 incident involving 23-year-old Richard Linyard, an East Oakland rapper who went by the name Afrikan Richie.

The coroner's bureau said it appears that Linyard died from injuries he suffered when he somehow wedged his 6-foot-tall, 190-pound body between two structures less than a foot apart in the 1600 block of 64th Avenue while running from a traffic stop.

However, toxicology tests are still pending so a conclusive cause of death hasn't yet been announced.

Speaking at a rally outside Oakland City Hall Thursday, Linyard's mother Jessica Gatewood said, "This was not a tragic accident. I believe he was murdered and the police are trying to cover it up."

Gatewood said police didn't allow her to see her son's body for two weeks because they were investigating the incident. When she finally saw him on Aug. 3, she saw what she believes is evidence that he was beaten, such as deep abrasions on his face and arms and bruises on his neck.

"I want answers," Gatewood said.

She said she is seeking all of her son's medical records, autopsy reports and the names of the police officers who were involved.

Gatewood said she's hired the law firm of Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris to consider the possibility of filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Oakland police.

Police said Linyard had a $10,000 warrant for his arrest when he was pulled over in the 1300 block of 65th Avenue, just off International Boulevard, at about 5:45 p.m. on July 19.

Linyard allegedly ran from the car into nearby yards. Police set up a perimeter and searched the area, finding him about a half-hour later about a block away stuck in the narrow space and unresponsive.

Officers performed CPR and called an ambulance, but Linyard was pronounced dead a short time later, police said.

Investigators later determined Linyard had an unspecified $10,000 warrant for his arrest and had a pound of marijuana in his car, according to police.

Oakland police on Wednesday invited certain media outlets to view video footage from body cameras that officers were wearing during the incident. Bay City News was not invited to view the footage.

Gatewood said she has not seen the footage but plans to on Friday.

"I'm scared to see it but I want to see it," she said.

She said she's suspicious about the video footage because there's a 30-minute gap when Linyard isn't seen.

Oscar Gonzalez, 22, who said he was a close friend of Linyard since they were in the sixth grade, also attended today's rally outside City Hall.

"I don't believe the police story for many reasons," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said when he saw Linyard's body, it looked like he had been beaten. He said the area where Linyard allegedly was trapped is bigger than pictures make it seem.

"It's not a big space, but it was big enough for him (Linyard) to fit in and relax and hide for an hour," Gonzalez said.

Gatewood said of her son, "He loved people, he loved everybody and he didn't deserve this. He always was smiling."

Oakland police weren't available for comment today on their investigation into the incident.